By Eric Johnson
Romans 8:16-17 have been used by some Mormons to support the idea that there is such a thing as “preexistence” and “exaltation” as gods. It reads,
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
First of all, the Bible says that the children of God are those adopted by faith. They are sinners who have trusted in Christ for their salvation. Right before the quoted passage above, the Bible refers to these “children” as being “adopted,” and thus they are not by nature children (read by Mormonism as “spirits”) from a previous realm who were born into this world. Galatians 3:26 says, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” John 1:12-13 says, “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” Also see Gal. 4:5-6 and Ephesians 1:5.
Second, we reject that “heirs of God” and “co-heirs of Christ” refers to exaltation. One Christian book refers to this as “an inheritance of all spiritual blessings in this life (Eph. 1:3), and all the riches of God’s glorious kingdom in the next life (1 Cor. 3:21-23)” (When Cultists Ask, 218). This is referred to by Christians as “glorification.”
If people could become gods of their own right, then it would seem that the Bible would have much more to say about this topic and be clearer. However, much has to be read into this passage to make it say something the original author never intended.
To show a number of quotes where LDS leaders have taught that verses like Romans 8:16-17 support the idea of becoming gods and having worlds upon which to populate, see
For a podcast on this topic, listen to a Viewpoint on Mormonism and special guest Rob Bowman here.
For other passages discussing common passages used by Latter-day Saints, click here.